This Saturday night sees a hotly anticipated clash at welterweight as WBO champion Timothy Bradley puts his belt on the line against ageless Mexican icon Juan Manuel Marquez at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Bradley, 30-0 (12), is coming off a very controversial title defense against Ruslan Provodnikov this past March, which saw Bradley beaten up and on the canvas in the 12th round before escaping with a thin unanimous decision.
This comes after Bradley, who held the WBC/WBO light welter belts from 2008 to 2011, jumped up to welter to dethrone WBO king Manny Pacquiao in 2012, again in very controversial fashion, on a split decision.
Marquez, 55-6-1 (40), is no stranger to either Pacquiao or controversy, as the Mexico City man lost three disputed decisions to the Filipino legend before crushing Pacquiao with a single sixth round right hand this past December.
Marquez, who has held the WBA/WBO lightweight, WBC super feather and WBA/IBF feather crowns, is coming off that career best triumph and will be facing Bradley, who was very fortunate to be awarded victory his last two contests.
What seems, on paper, to be a very big advantage to Marquez could be dampened by the age of the Mexican, who turned 40, versus the relatively young 30 year old Californian Bradley.
This is compounded by Bradley's high volume pressure fighting style, which could sap the stamina of Marquez in the later rounds. But, Marquez is one of the best counter-punchers in the sport and Bradley's come-forward approach could suit Juan Manuel right down to the ground.
If Marquez can make Bradley miss and pay, he should be able to keep the tempo down to a moderate pace and take home a solid points victory. If he can't keep Bradley off and is forced into trench warfare, Marquez could be in for a long night unless he can land the kind of bomb that put Pacquiao to sleep last year.
The key to victory for Marquez is to use good footwork to make Bradley take chances and get off balance, attacking the champion in those moments before withdrawing to the outside.
For Bradley to retain his title, he'll have to make Marquez work for three minutes of every round, cut off the ring and force the challenger to stand and trade but to keep his defense tight at the same time.
Which ever way things turn out, this one should be a great fight and hopefully, the judges will award the victory to the deserved fighter.